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Russia’s Actions at the Occupation Line of Georgia Constitute Gross Human Rights Violations

21.08.2019

Georgian Coalition for International Criminal Court (GCICC) responds to the continual expansion of occupation line inside Georgia’s territory by the Russian Federation which constitutes mass human rights violations. 

Soon after the end of the 2008 August War, the government of the Russian Federation started so-called borderization process in Georgia’s territory which grossly violates rights of the local population. The Russian border guards together with the representatives of the de facto administrations of South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia are arbitrarily installing border markers, fences and barbed wires alongside the occupation line. These actions aim to separate territories occupied by Russia - Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region - from the rest of Georgia. By November 30, 2017, over 30 incidents of borderization were observed in Georgia which included 33 villages alongside the dividing line of South Ossetia and seven villages alongside the dividing line of Abkhazia.

On August 7, 2019, the arbitrary process of installing artificial barriers resumed along the administrative boundary line in the village Gugutiantkari which continues till today. As a result, houses of two families and their agricultural plots which represented their main source of income became occupied. The families were forced to dismantle their own houses in the time limit set by the occupied forces and bring the parts over to the territory controlled by Georgia. The local population fears that as a result of the continual erection of barriers, other houses will also be captured in the occupied territories. The occupying forces are continuing the illegal borderization. According to the information provided by the local population, the irrigation system might fall into the occupied territories and the population may lose access to water as a result.

The facts of illegal detention of citizens of Georgia by the Russian border forces are continuing as well. On August 17, 2019, in the village Akhalubani in Gori municipality, the representatives of Russian military forces kidnapped 7 local residents under the charges of the so-called illegal crossing of border. According to the information disseminated by various media sources, they were detained at the church located along the occupation line and are now kept in Tskhinvali temporary detention facilities. The family members do not have information when they will be released. According to the information provided by the local population, there is no warning and so-called border signs in the villages. Therefore, the local residents may be kidnapped from anywhere. The Russian border guards kidnapped one more local resident from the village Artsevi in Gori municipality on August 18, under the charges of the so-called illegal crossing of border. 

The facts of restriction of freedom of movement and illegal detention along the administrative boundary line have been ongoing for multiple years. According to the information of Public Defender of Georgia, since 2011 till 2018, 2706 individuals became the victims of illegal detention/kidnapping along the administrative boundary line of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region. The facts of ill-treatment against the detained individuals take place in the detention facilities in the occupied territories. The conditions in these facilities are grave and inappropriate.
The detained individuals are as usual deprived right to contact their family.

The systematic and severe violations of fundamental human rights by Russia and de facto governments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region constitute persecution of civil population under the ethnic grounds. The unlawful acts directed against the people living along the dividing lines have organized form and take place regularly. This situation has been continuing for years. Therefore, these acts contain the signs of the crimes against humanity.

Considering above mentioned, we call on:

Government of Georgia:

- Use every diplomatic and international legal mechanism in order to end occupation of Georgia’s territory by the Russian Federation and stop severe violations of fundamental human rights of Georgian citizens;
- Activate patrolling in the villages situated along the dividing lines of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region where the facts of illegal detention and borderization take place;
Ensure safety of people with relevant informational and educational work in the places under the high risk of danger.

Russian Federation:

- Stop occupation of Georgia’s territory and respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia;
Stop illegal borderization and mass human rights violations, including the illegal detention of citizens of Georgia and restriction of their freedom of movement;

International society and organizations:

Activate efforts against the mass human rights violations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region and for allowing their representatives to conduct monitoring in the occupied territories.

International Criminal Court:

Observe ongoing processes, study the crimes and react accordingly.

Revealing and bringing to justice the individuals responsible for international crimes committed during the 2008 August War may have preventive effect on the ongoing violations. Therefore, the ICC must ensure the completion of investigation in a timely manner and issue arrest warrants against the high government officials who are most responsible for the crimes.

Member Organizations of Georgian Coalition for ICC:

Article 42 of Constitution
Georgian Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)
Georgian Young Lawyers Association
Human Rights Center
International Center on Conflict and Negotiation
Justice International
International Organizations:
Norwegian Helsinki Committee 



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